At the time of writing, we were being allowed to drive for leisure and work purposes, so here are some hints and tips as we ease ourselves back into the driving seat, and onto the roads.
Plan your journey
This is the ultimate point that we cannot stress enough. A significant portion of accidents and offences occur due to insufficient planning. When we don’t plan our time effectively, we increase the risk of:
• Running late and speeding;
• Becoming distracted (doing your hair in the car, for example);
• Becoming frustrated or angry at road conditions which increase the chance of an accident.
You should always try to plan each journey with military precision, especially if it is a trip that is not routinely made. Smartphones offer many ways to assist with traffic reports, commute times and the best routes to take, so we urge you all to utilise your time effectively.
As a follow-up to tip one, staying relaxed means you are effective behind the wheel. If there’s an unexpected hazard ahead of you, then don’t worry. It can’t be helped, and getting agitated will do nothing for your mood or your journey time. When we become stressed and angry, we tend to act rashly because of the building frustration. Just try to accept that whatever has happened is beyond your control, and you just have to get on with it. Hopefully, if you’ve planned your journey in advance, you may have given yourself some leeway when it comes to unexpected delays, but try opening a window or putting some music on to help make the delay more bearable.
We have been able to enjoy some great weather recently, and hopefully this is set to continue. When you’re out and about driving, the sun can prove to be a huge distraction, particularly on busy roads, as there are many more reflective surfaces to produce glare and hinder your vision. Wearing sunglasses will reduce this.
If your vehicle hasn’t seen regular use recently, it may be more inclined to exhibit problems. If you do breakdown, there are some essentials you should ensure you always carry with you:
• Mobile phone charger;
• Hi-visibility jacket;
• Food and water;
• Warning triangle and jump leads;
• Puncture repair kit or spare wheel;
• Warm and waterproof clothing;
• Empty fuel can;
• First aid kit and torch.
Defensive driving covers a wide range of skills you should employ to prevent dangerous situations on the roads. You should plan for ways you can react in an emergency, like if another vehicle was to try and merge into your lane. In addition, you should also:
• Keep scanning traffic and the road ahead, both in front and behind;
• Identify vehicles that appear unsafe, such as those that are erratically merging across lanes, speeding dangerously, or drifting within a lane;
• Follow the flow of traffic;
• Signal with plenty of warning, before making a turn or merging into a lane;
• Allow plenty of space between you and other vehicles around you;
• Never drive while tired or emotionally agitated.
Most offences that can occur during busy traffic carry penalty points. Offences like speeding, careless driving, running a red light etc., are, for most people, a minor annoyance. If you are charged with an offence, which would see the total number of points on your licence hit 12 or more, then you may be at risk of a 6-month disqualification from driving. This may be the last thing you need during this difficult period, and so we urge you all to stay safe, be mindful of the road conditions and contact us if you need any advice or guidance.
Motoring Defence Solicitors are road traffic lawyers specialising in drink and drug driving offences. Based out of their central London offices, they provide free advice on a range of offences to motorists nationwide. You can contact Neil Sargeant for free on 0800 433 2880 or visit the website at www.drinkdrugdriving.co.uk.